Ethiopian Knights

Ethiopian Knights

Classic 1972 album. If there’s one word to summarize Donald Byrd’s career, it’s undoubtedly “eclectic.” 

Artist: Donald Byrd

Genre: Jazz

Label: Blue Note

Release date:

The trumpet player recorded his share of straight-ahead hard-bop, but he branched out pretty far from that central sound, adding vocal choir experiments on the groundbreaking A New Perspective, dabbling in soul jazz in the late ’60s, zoning out with space-age fusion sounds in the mid ’70s, and carving out a seriously funky groove on Ethiopian Knights. The name, admittedly, is a little misleading — there’s scarcely any trace of the Ethio-jazz sounds of musicians like Mulatu Astatke. Instead, it’s a dense fusion record a la Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, but funkier, catchier, and just fun to listen to all around. It contains only three compositions: 15-minute-plus bookends The Emperor and The Little Rasti, and the shorter Jamie sandwiched in between. While Miles was off on another, nearly untouchable plane, Byrd took influence from the likes of Sly Stone and James Brown and made something infectiously funky. The album’s just under 40 minutes, but the groove never stops.

About the artist

Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter and vocalist. A sideman for many other jazz musicians of his generation, Byrd was one of the few hard bop musicians who successfully explored funk and soul while remaining a jazz artist.

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  • Standard Pressing

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